Obama equates threats from climate change, ISIS

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President Obama on Tuesday compared the threat posed by climate change to that of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying they require a similar kind of response.

The comments, during a news conference at climate talks in Paris, double down on the controversial position of his administration that climate change is as bad as terrorism, if not worse.

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“In some ways, [climate change] is akin to the problem of terrorism and ISIL,” Obama said, using an alternate acronym for the terror group.

Both threats, Obama said, require a long, sustained effort by the United States to assess and neutralize them.

The administration has long maintained that the effects of climate change -- like rising sea levels, extreme weather, drought and crop problems -- could create more harm and unrest than terrorism, and require a similar response.

Republicans have overwhelmingly dismissed the idea and excoriated Obama for understating the threat of terrorism and not taking it seriously.

Obama’s comments came weeks after the ISIS killed 130 people in a series of coordinated gun and bomb attacks in Paris in one of the deadliest attacks perpetrated by the extremist group.

At a news conference on Monday, White House national security adviser Ben Rhodes refused to directly answer which issue, climate change or terrorism, is a bigger threat to the U.S.

“The leaders who have looked at the danger of climate change, they see even the instability we’re faced today significantly magnified by the effects of climate change over time given the disruptions that extreme weather will have on certain countries, given, again, the lives that will be put at stake and the economic disruptions that will take place with the continued effects of climate change,” he said.

“They’re very different threats, but they're both very serious. And we have to deal with both them. And I think the one common thread is the fact that we need the world with us in this effort.”